First there was World of Tanks, then we got World of Warplanes, and now we’re getting World of Warships. This year at PAX Prime I had the opportunity to sit down with the Wargaming team, discuss their newest MMO and watch it in action. Even though World of Warships is still in its alpha stage, it’s one of the most gorgeous games I’ve ever seen. Following their previous titles, this one will also be a free-to-play MMO and make use of legendary naval vessels from the early 20th century. Featuring dozens of individual ships and four separate classes, players will be able to choose their own battle tactics from covert strikes to head-on encounters.
Walking into their booth early Saturday morning, I could already tell that the Wargaming team was excited to talk about their upcoming game. Soon I’d realize why. When the test scenario for World of Warships loaded I was immediately impressed. The ships were so detailed they looked lifelike, the water was crisp and the waves broke as the fleet passed by. This first thought that came to me was that this game looks real. I don’t mean that the graphics looked lifelike, I mean it would literally require a double take to realize that screenshots from this game weren’t pictures of the actual ships. Wargaming went so far as to include every little rivet and pattern of rust on the ships. My mind was blown and I hadn’t even seen any combat yet, but the best was definitely yet to come.
BALANCING HISTORICAL ACCURACY AND EXCITING COMBAT
The team at Wargaming had the difficult task of making their game historically accurate and fun to play at the same time. Most historic naval battles took place on open water, which wouldn’t be terribly interesting in a game, so the battle locations and scenarios are one of the few areas where they deviated from their core values. In order to make the game more interesting, battles will transpire near islands and places that condone tactical strategy. Each of these scenarios should provide a unique battle arena and are inspired by real-world locations.
“One of our core tenets, of course, at Wargaming is all about historical accuracy. This ship right here, the Nagato, actually took us 8 months to build. There are 270,000 polygons in this model, it’s made with 500 different individual parts, each individual gun is modeled and they fire independently.”
The ships were obviously the main focus in World of Warships and it’s obvious how much effort went into making them perfectly accurate. There are approximately 75 ships planned for launch with more expected on the way. Content will also be introduced based on countries and regions with the United States and Japan being the first two countries. Every single ship is modeled after an actual warship down to the weapon range and ammunition. They way turrets work was also based on this concept and even though a battleship might have dozens of turrets only the front ones can fire while moving forward; in order to make full use of a ship’s arsenal, players can maneuver to expose their broadside, but this sacrifices survivability for extra firepower.
COMBAT IN DEADLY WATERS
Combat is handled completely different in World of Warships than the previous games in the franchise. In World of Tanks and World of Warplanes there isn’t much room for error and a direct hit, or two, is likely going to mean the end for your craft. In World of Warships, however, the vessels are sectioned off and each individual piece can be damage or completely destroyed without bringing down the entire ship. This means that strategy and coordination are going to win out in the long run over a few lucky shots.
“As you can see, just like in World of Tanks, our ships have modules and all sorts of pieces that can be broken; you can hit engines and destroy each individual turret.”
With four very distinct classes in the game, there should be a role for just about every player. The Battleship is clearly the brute of the bunch featuring heavy armor and an array of weaponry. On the opposite spectrum is the quick Destroyer that has a focus on maneuverability, speed, and specialized weaponry. In the middle is the Cruiser class, which can take a few more hits than the Destroyer but isn’t quite as quick. The final class wasn’t on display at PAX this year, but it’s definitely going to make things interesting.
“The fourth class we aren’t showing in this build today is our Carrier class. It’s an RTS style build with a top-down view for control of planes, dive bombers, torpedo bombers, scout planes.”
Adding in an RTS element to an armored warfare game completely changes the playing field. A carrier is definitely going to be a big target on the battlefield and having control over an array of specialized planes is going to provide a lot of support for the escort crew. The only issue I foresee is what happens if everyone ends up wanting to play the carrier class? Hopefully there will be a separate queue based on ship type, but having an entire fleet of carriers would be pretty hilarious.
There are also a few other really interesting mechanics that are being added to World of Warships. First is the “shell follow” camera, which allows players to literally watch their bullets go downrange. Since these battleships have fairly long range, it’s difficult to tell exactly how far off each shot is, but with this camera mode it’s much easier to make distance or leading adjustments. There are also ramming mechanics in place that could provoke a creative, if not incredibly risky, strategy.
A NEW STANDARD IS SET
Historically accurate games featuring armored vehicles are usually not my type of game. World of Warships might not even be something I would normally play, but this one definitely sets the bar for every other game that intends to follow it. The graphics are stunning, the ships are realistic and the combat is highly entertaining. Since World of Warships is going to be free to play, there’s absolutely no reason not to give it a try once it becomes available.Related: F2P, Hands On, MMO, PAX, PAX Prime, Wargaming, World of Warships